“If you want to do something, the best thing to do is find the person who is the best at it and tackle them until you learn all that you can [from them],” said entrepreneur Paul Reed Smith in the lunch room of his guitar factory in Stevensville, Md.
While most teenagers spent their Presidents’ Day sleeping in from their day off of school, Venturing Crew 314 spent its day getting a personal tour inside of the Paul Reed Smith guitar factory. A program of the Boy Scouts of America, the Venturing Crew is an experience-driven learning program for teens.
During the tour of the PRS factory, we learned that the process of making the perfect guitar starts miles away.
- The PRS factory receives shipments of all types of wood — mahogany, maple, ash, alder and spruce — to make the guitar’s body.
- The wood is placed into piles according to its color, type and grade.
- Once the wood has been sorted, it’s then placed inside of an automatic machine that cuts out the body of the guitar.
- After the body has been carved out, the real hands-on work begins as each worker on the assembly line buffs the frame in long, rhythmic strokes while jamming with the music blaring from their head phones.
In the meantime, workers on the opposite side of the factory paint the signature Paul Reed Smith birds down the neck of the guitar. Once the body and neck are complete, they are connected together and sent to receive a custom paint job. After that comes the strings and soundboard, to give each guitar its vintage sound.
Before being shipped off the guitar goes through one final full-body inspection and is then photographed to ensure that it is in perfect condition. At that point, the Paul Reed Smith guitar is placed into its traditional black PRS case and loaded onto the dock for shipment.
Before going on the trip, my crew and I thought we were going to get just a standard tour of how guitars are made. But while we were there, we learned the importance of teamwork and what can come from something that you put a lot of pride and effort into.
We had the opportunity to speak with Paul Reed Smith, and the most memorable piece of advice that he told Crew 314 was: “It takes 3 no’s to get a yes.”
Watch Paul Reed Smith explain the acoustics of PRS guitars:
Just because someone tells you that your idea is not good enough does not mean that you should give up on it. You should keep working at it until you get the answer you are looking for.